Problems with Outsourcing Website & Software Development

5 min read

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A strong website presence can offer huge benefits to digital-savvy organisations and implementing a great technology stack can increase productivity like never before...


...but keeping up with changing technologies, user habits and evolving standards can be a challenge. Typically, you need the advice and skillset of an external party to be certain your website remains competitive and your software really is cutting edge.

 

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Outsourcing website or software development offers predictable expenses and efficiencies gained from using development professionals familiar with the typical structure and needs of your digital requirements. We’ve been helping Australian organisations break free from bad contracts, migrating them to new platforms - all while reducing their yearly costs. Read more about our success stories here.

Issue 1 - There is no clear vendor process or project plan when you sign the dotted line.

Avoid web development and software implementation agencies who can’t explain to you how they will approach your exact requirements. An experienced, skilled vendor will have a well-established in-house development process that will feed directly into your overall development project plan.

A good vendor process will not just feature a requirements consultation, development and delivery, but also factor in time for reporting, feedback loops, testing and handover documentation – prior to launch.

Even if your vendor has well-defined processes in place, it’s important as part of the initial planning and contract stages to sit down with them and identify how these will line up with your own internal business processes and expectations. Consider your internal stakeholder’s needs. Will they require choices at every iteration of the website? What integrations do people use or would be handy to have? Do only certain staff members need access to certain data? What is your internal process for new staff on-boarding in order to use the website or software tools implemented?

These decisions form the basic foundations of the success of your digital project.

Issue 2 – There is no central point of communication, no-one to take ownership of issues.

You may have signed off on the requirements documentation and processes, but has your vendor provided a main point of contact for project queries and updates? It’s a rare project where communication improves over time. If the company developing your website for example is sending you uncoordinated status updates from a variety of staff within their organisation, it’s inevitable that some critical pieces of information will fall between the cracks.

A professional vendor will be happy to work within consistent, well-defined communication channels and timelines. It is not your responsibility as the client to know which of their staff to talk to about what feature – the vendor should offer you a point of contact who knows the ins and outs of the project and can get this information for you. This person may be a project manager, though sometimes this role may fall to a lead developer or business analyst within the team.

A single point of communication between the business and the vendor may seem like an increased risk, but a good internal project lead will not only ensure that communications with the vendor are consistent, but also well-documented. 

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Issue 3 – You’re actually using multiple, incompatible staff and/or agencies.

Dividing a single development project over multiple development agencies can almost certainly increase your project’s complexity. Each agency will typically have different processes and development cycles, which could cause some conflict. To avoid this problem, we recommend selecting one agency to take the lead from the start, and ensure that all project roles are very clearly defined. If 3rd party agencies are used, then ideally these are long term partnerships where one team happily acts as the extension of the other.

If you’re also outsourcing other related parts of your project, such as your PR, the developer you are using will need to understand the PR strategy as inputs to the project. If you don’t have one in mind already, you may be able to get recommendations from your development agency regarding firms they have successfully collaborated with in the past.

Issue 4 – The developer you select is only focusing on solving immediate issues.

Be sure to establish both within your organisation and with the vendor what ongoing costs may be incurred in maintaining your website and what their ongoing commitment to you is outside of the contractual obligations.

A developer who can integrate your website and software with other business tools while offering versatility with customisable modules is a developer that can build you a lasting solution. Don’t just ask how long something will take to do now – find out how long your other ideas might take to implement or change after your solution is built.

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Issue 5 – Your code is an asset, and you don’t know what's in it or who now has it.

As security and data protection discussions grow, so does the focus on who had access to your code. Building a website or software solution will no doubt involve the review and manipulation of your data, or consumer data. Outsourcing code means you don’t know what individuals have access to sensitive information.

Not only that, your software is your intellectual property, and it’s imperative to agree that what you’ve paid to develop is actually yours, not to be replicated and re-sold later. It is also important to ensure that the latest practises and standards are used in the technical development process.
 

If someone painted a Toyota Red and called it a Ferrari, you’d likely know the difference, but with development it’s not so simple.

The average person doesn’t see or understand the backend system, read through the code and review the data structure implemented. We offer external 3rd party reviews of  your website or software project to ensure compliance against what was agreed. Bad code will cost you later when another party takes over development only to tell you it’s cheaper to tear it down and start again, something very typical when outsourcing development.

At Integranet we are committed to putting the power in the hands of our clients, by building customisable, flexible websites and software solutions.

The same developers who build your solution are the ones to train your staff to keep, maintain and grow your tools without a daily reliance on us. Our goal is to help local organisations avoid expensive development projects in the long run.

We don’t want your current project to drag out, we want it done so we can look to the next exciting digital tool that will help propel you towards growth. Our team are happy to answer any questions you have before engaging in any digital project with us and you can take us up on our free digital consultation at any time.

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